Confident McGrath a potential new-ball weapon: Schutt
Pace ace Megan Schutt believes SA teammate Tahlia McGrath is ready to make an impact in her return to the Aussie set-up
25 July 2020, 03:15 PM AEST
Tahlia McGrath continues to grow in confidence since earning her first Cricket Australia national contract – and Australian spearhead Megan Schutt can see the pair forming a potent new-ball partnership for their country.
Schutt told cricket.com.au she had noticed a considerable change in her state teammate McGrath since the 2020-21 CA contract list was revealed in late April.
The 24-year-old pace-bowling allrounder was added despite not playing for her country since the 2017 Ashes, earning a spot after a standout summer at domestic level, and with an eye to next year’s ODI World Cup in New Zealand.
"I am so happy for her. It’s been deserved for a long time, but I think of how young she was when she first got an opportunity – she really was just a kid," South Australian captain Schutt said of her deputy.
"She’s proved she’s worthy of a contract.
"The level she’s training at now with the confidence of getting that contract … I’ve been watching her a bit more than usual – that sounds a bit creepy – but even the way she’s fielding, everything seems to have taken a step up.
"That would be confidence from finally being recognised by Australian selectors.
"It’s great to have another South Australian in the mix – she completely deserves it, she’s a natural talent and the way she goes about her cricket is so calm and collected, it’s perfect for our mix of people."
With superstar Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry still on the comeback trail from the serious hamstring injury that prematurely ended her World Cup campaign, McGrath’s chance to return to the green and gold could come against New Zealand in September.
Perry and Schutt have been Australia’s established – and devastating – new-ball pair for the past several years.
But if the former is unavailable, what Schutt has seen already in the nets in Adelaide this preseason is a strong sign McGrath can fill Perry’s enormous shoes.
"The shape away she’s getting in the nets at the moment – they are preseason nets so they’re a little bit moist and there is going to be more swing – but the shape she’s getting (is significant).
"That’s what makes me and Pez such a good balance, she’s moving it out and I’m moving it in at the other end, so there’s no real chance to settle.
"If Pez isn’t up and running for the next tour, then Tahlia is a good replacement because we’re used to doing (the same thing) at state level.
"Now it’s just trying to do it at Aussie level."
McGrath was first called into an Australian squad mid-way through a home ODI series against South Africa in late 2016, aged just 21, but a serious back injury meant she was unavailable for the 2017 World Cup the following year.
Those stress fractures would become a recurring theme and while the allrounder returned to make a Test debut in 2017, injuries and a lack of confidence and form meant she was unable maintain her spot in the national side.
As McGrath explained to cricket.com.au last month, it took a low point during last year’s Australia A tour of the United Kingdom to turn things around.
What followed was a standout summer in both the Rebel WBBL and 50-over Women’s National Cricket League.
"She’s just a bit more relaxed and comfortable with herself," Schutt said of McGrath.
"When she was originally dropped, she was told she wasn’t a T20 player but she’s come out and smashed the Big Bash the last couple of years with the bat and the ball.
"The ball had been a bit of a letdown for her in the WNCL the last couple seasons, but in the summer just gone she was excellent.
"She could have hit a 10-cent coin.
"She improved in all the aspects they told her to and she’s been rewarded for that.
"She’s only 24 now and to think her first opportunity came so young, and there’s been time in between for her to develop and keep pushing – she’s still got so many years ahead of her and that’s what is so exciting."